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06 December 2011

Conclusions Can Be Revised

Way back in 2003, I thought I had "figured out" an 1860 census entry with a few irregular entries. I even had a list of reasons why my conclusion was correct.

Flash forward to 2012. In attempting to "redo" the research, I reached a different conclusion about the 1860 census entry--one that meant I had more work to do.

Genealogical conclusions are always subject to new information, new procedures, and the potential that a misinterpretation was made along the way. Don't be afraid to revise.


  1. Michael,
    This is so very true! Especially as new records are being made available to us on a daily basis, it can be disheartening to find that your initial conclusion could have been so wrong. Revising your original research and starting over with a fresh outlook is the only way to go.

  2. Kelly,

    In my case it was partially new records and partially that I needed to really take a good look at my original conclusions. The reasoning was valid, there were just some possibilities that were overlooked.

    It was frustrating to have to realize that (in my case) I hadn't found the guy in the 1860 census, but it hindsight it was good because now I have to re-evaluate why I can't find him in 1860 and that may actually lead to more information on him than I already have.

    In this case the incorrect conclusion about this guy and the 1860 census might have been part of my problem.

  3. Michael,

    I have done the same thing. I had a lull in clients to research a few months ago so I went back and re-evaluated my entire tree.

    The first thing I found was that there were ridiculous numbers of new records that had popped up since I had looked at my tree last. I also found, however, a few loose ends that I was able to tie down and also a few areas that I was now skeptical about my path.

    I started a new tree on that line and researched it again from the beginning. Thankfully, I ended up with the same conclusion, though with much more detail and evidence.


  4. Kelly-

    Sometimes when I am at the FHL in Salt Lake or the ACPL in Ft. Wayne, I research and have valid reasons for why I did the next task but I don't always leave myself a sufficient audit trail of why I did what I did. Sometimes if I keep the copies or images in the right order, I can pretty much remember, but I need to be better about taking better notes as I research. A few times I really did forget why the next thing was copied and put in "the stack."

    Usually new things cause me to expand or solidify original conclusions, but every so often I really have to revise something based upon something new. I find writing out conclusions and reasons clears up so many things.


  5. Michael, If you have difficulty with your note taking, there's little hope for me!

  6. Kat-
    It's more that sometimes when I'm on a trip and trying to get the most "bang for my travel buck" that I don't track my process as well as I could. I keep track of where I get things.

    I was working on the William Rhodus who've I have been discussing in the newsletter and I had copies from census records in several years in different states for different people and copies from books, etc. It took me forever to "recreate" the process to determine why I had copied them. The good thing was that I knew what census or book everything was from, but I still wish I had kept better track of why I did what I did at the time I did it

  7. Michael,

    This is when my OCD comes in quite handy. I am meticulous about my note-taking and train of evidence in my family tree research. It helps out a lot. I just keep a basic "journal" as I go along, which helps me to go back and see my train of though. Specifically when I go back and look at my old research, this is very helpful.

    Thanks again,